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Out-of-state students bring funds, diversity

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | SEPTEMBER 30, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa natives starts to get nervous when the University of Iowa administration announces it will increase its nonresidential population. Some fear it will limit local access to higher education. Others see images of big-city partiers and strange accents, adding to the anxiety of being a student at a large public university.

But the influx of diversity will not only be better for UI in the long run but for students in the short run — but the university's quest for diversity should not overtake its obligations to the state.

The proposed increase in the number of out-of-state students is, first and foremost, a great way to add money to the school's budget. There is a significant difference in resident and nonresident tuition: $7,765 for residents, $25,099 for nonresidents. Because Iowa residents accounted for 45.2 percent and domestic nonresidents for 44.2 percent of the last freshman class, closing that gap would mean more money for educational resources and new faculty.

One concern of a mass student increase is limited access to one-on-one student-teacher communication. Given the influx of new students and new money, UI still needs to maintain, if not better, its 15-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Luckily, the UI is planning to invest in new faculty. According to the report "Meeting the Grand Challenges of the 21st Century," there are plans to hire 100 new faculty members in the next five years. If the university plans to maintain its current student-faculty ratio, this could allow for an increase of 1,500 out-of-state students, or $37.6 million in tuition.

But this isn't the only perk to having more nonresidents.

Michael Barron, the UI assistant provost for Enrollment Services and director of Admissions, said having a more diversified student base will lead to a better experience for graduate students and real-world situations.

"It's more than educational to have a mix of students that more closely mirror the world," he said. "As a student, you are more likely, in this global economy, to interact with a diversified group of individuals."

With companies stressing increased diversity in the private and public sector, soliciting nonresident students could be more beneficial than ever. Major private universities, such as Harvard, Notre Dame, and the University of Chicago, are working to educate their students in diversity management in the current economy. NYU even offers a course on the subject. The course description offers some insight to the subject matter's importance: "A rapidly expanding global economy requires expert knowledge and sensitivities to a vast array of individual, group, and cultural diversities."

Barron thinks that this influx of these diversified students will lead to a more enriched, well-rounded educational experience and make UI students more competitive in the global job market.

While populations expand, our world is becoming smaller. As technology increases and globalization occurs at a faster rate, college graduates need to be more prepared for a diversified environment. Nonresidents should be more actively recruited to UI for their extracurricular activities and academics in order to create a microcosm of what to expect in the world outside of campus.

This being said, the university should not forget its roots as a public university catering to the interests of the state while striving to become more competitive. Iowa residents should still be a priority, given the chance to be admitted as long as they are qualified.

Barron was quick to agree with this point.

"As a state university, we start with the premise that all qualified Iowans who wish to enroll, should be able to enroll."

He went on to examine the relationship between the state of Iowa and the students who attend UI.

"All students pay tuition, and that money goes to support the teaching mission of the university," which he summarized as creating a better atmosphere for all in Iowa and throughout the nation.

When it comes to closing the gap between in-state and out-of-state students, there's nothing to fret about. The UI is still committed to its Iowa roots, but it seeks more innovative ways to create funding and it strives to create a complex melting pot of differing cultures and lifestyles.

So Iowa natives, kick back, relax, and get a little culture. Chances are you'll need it in the future, anyway.


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